Turf Talk: Why We Verticut and Topdress Our Greens
Why do we verticut and topdress greens so frequently?
One of the main differences between bentgrass putting greens and ultradwarf bermudagrass putting greens is the way in which they grow. Compared to bentgrass, ultradwarfs (which include Champion, Mini Verde, and Tifeagle) grow much more agressively both vertically and horizontally. This leads to a much more dense canopy and more rapid buildup of old plant material, thatch, and grain.
In order to provide a good putting surface this dense canopy needs to be thinned out, removing old plant material, and encouraging a more upright growth habit. This is done through frequent, light verticutting, which is usually done at a depth ranging from 1/32”-⅛” deep. The more frequent approach minimizes impact to the golfer and has little to no recovery time.
This leads to our next topic: topdressing. Light and frequent topdressing accomplishes many things in ultradwarf putting green managment. It for one fills in any inconsistencies in the putting surface, adds firmness, reduces the impact of grain, reduces algae, and most importantly dilutes the soil profile, leading to better water infiltration, more oxygen for roots, and disease prevention. Again more frequent light applications of sand affect play less, and ensure that the most sand possible stays in the plant canopy and does not get picked up by mowers.
Turf Talk is brought to you by Oaks Course Superintendent, John Fields. Stay tuned for more about the turf of our course and additional information as we roll out this new blog series!